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COMMENTS

WWTD? (What will Tanaka do?)

Written by , Posted in General

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. 

Let’s try an exercise. Here’s the scenario: First, imagine you are not a Cubs fan (this is probably harder for some than others). Second, imagine you’re Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka (stay with me here). Third, imagine you have the option of signing with any major league team. Which team would you choose? Would you automatically go with the highest bid? Do you want to play on a team with a rich tradition of championships like the Yankees? Do you want to go to a team loaded with win-now major league talent like the Dodgers? Do you want to play in a market where you can maximize endorsement deals and media exposure? …or, do you select a team who is a few years away from being competitive, plays in a historic ballpark, hasn’t won in 100+ years, and (might) offer you the biggest contract (i.e., the Cubs)? Would a chance to bring a championship to this team matter? Do you even know the history of the Cubs?

Multiple reports have indicated that the Cubs will be “all in” on Tanaka. Perhaps they’ve been saving and “shaving” payroll in preparation for this opportunity. Maybe they see this as the first step toward competitiveness over the next 2 to 3 years. It is a rare thing to be able to land a talent of this caliber and to lose nothing but money.

So, for now, let’s assume that the finances will be there (something we won’t be sure of until the deal is made public). What would it take to convince Tanaka to come to Chicago? Even though it’s my favorite city (and I’m not a Chicagoan), I have no idea how known Chicago is in Japan – or how popular the Cubs are there. If Tanaka knows something of Chicago, maybe they have a chance, but if he sees it just as a city in the middle of the country with a bad team (and poor player facilities), would it even be possible to land him at all? Fukodome did sign with the Cubs, but he’s not in the same league as Tanaka as far as demand. Will the Cubs have to overwhelm Tanaka with a contract offer that is significantly larger than other offers? Could – and should – the Cubs do that?

So, imagine you are in Tanaka’s shoes right now. What would you do? What factors would determine your course of action?

Have a safe and happy new year!

  • Buddy

    Of course Tanaka will sign with the Cubs. Who wouldn’t want to play with stars like Darwin Barney, Donnie Murphy, Ryan Sweeney and Brooks Raley?

    • Doc Raker

      And be interviewed by Len Kasper. “Welcome Mr. Tanaka, what kind of tunes do you have on your iPod? Have you been to Dinseyland yet? I always see lot’s of Japanese tourist at Disneyland, maybe you will know some of them.”

    • Of course if you play with the likes of Darwin Barney, Donnie Murphy, Ryan Sweeney and Brooks Raley you’re guaranteed to look like even more of a star than you already are. Hell I may be able to give one or two of them a run for their money and I’m 46 and barely 4’11” tall.

      • cap’n obvious

        but can you rake off a machine throwing lollipops?

      • I’d bat Lizzie ahead of any of those 70 y/o tax attorneys. Even the guy from Yuma.

      • Doc Raker

        I would hit Lizzie ahead of the Cap’n and Seymour.

      • Seymour Butts

        Yes, we are all aware of your domestic violence history. Odd that you would brag about it.

      • Doc Raker

        Seymour, you must be getting excited about getting down to Cubs camp. That is pretty cool that you will be the first to use the new spring training facility. Please let us know how it is.

      • Doc Raker

        Seymour, you must be getting excited about getting down to Cubs camp. That is pretty cool that you will be the first to use the new spring training facility. Please let us know how it is.

  • Buddy

    Of course Tanaka will sign with the Cubs. Who wouldn’t want to play with stars like Darwin Barney, Donnie Murphy, Ryan Sweeney and Brooks Raley?

    • Doc Raker

      And be interviewed by Len Kasper. “Welcome Mr. Tanaka, what kind of tunes do you have on your iPod? Have you been to Dinseyland yet? I always see lot’s of Japanese tourist at Disneyland, maybe you will know some of them.”

    • Of course if you play with the likes of Darwin Barney, Donnie Murphy, Ryan Sweeney and Brooks Raley you’re guaranteed to look like even more of a star than you already are. Hell I may be able to give one or two of them a run for their money and I’m 46 and barely 4’11” tall.

  • Doc Raker

    He will take the highe$t offer and then sit down at a press conference and with the help of an interpreter say, “It isn’t about the money.” If it is the Yankee’s it will be about adding championships to the Yankee dynasty, if it is the Dodgers it will be about helping the team reach that championship goal, if it is the Cubs it will be about bringing a championship to a team that hasn’t had a championship in 100 + years, but make no mistake it is about the money. There will be no press conference with the Minnesota Twins or the Oakland A’s and there will be no talk of bringing a championship to a young talented small market cash strapped team because it is about the money. It is always about the money.

    • Eddie Von White

      What do you call a guy named Tanaka? I’m going with “Tank.” I would sign a hefty contract with a team that is committed to winning and has a history to prove that commitment. That pretty much leaves the Cubs out.

    • Sean Powell

      I actually hope he does take the highest offer, because that might be the Cubs best scenario. I’m still afraid that the Cubs could outbid all other teams but still not land him due to the factors I mentioned above.

      • Noah_I

        Yeah, I think it will be highest offer too. Beyond that, it’s not like the Yankees are really well set to win in the next 3 year or so. They’ll be much better than the Cubs in 2014, but in that division I’d be surprised if the Yankees finish above third next season.

      • Chuck

        Yes, because actually improving the product on the field would be such a horrible misuse of resources. Would you prefer the Cubs to spend the money on a guy on the wrong side of 30? Would you rather Ricketts buy another Bentley or vacation home? Unless he suffers some catastrophic injury, you will be getting a solid #2 pitcher in the prime of his career. The only other way to acquire such a talent under the current CBA is to trade for it and that will cost you dearly in prospects. Signing this guy only costs money. Yes, it will be a substantial amount of money, but it will not cost you any other asset.

  • Doc Raker

    He will take the highe$t offer and then sit down at a press conference and with the help of an interpreter say, “It isn’t about the money.” If it is the Yankee’s it will be about adding championships to the Yankee dynasty, if it is the Dodgers it will be about helping the team reach that championship goal, if it is the Cubs it will be about bringing a championship to a team that hasn’t had a championship in 100 + years, but make no mistake it is about the money. There will be no press conference with the Minnesota Twins or the Oakland A’s and there will be no talk of bringing a championship to a young talented small market cash strapped team because it is about the money. It is always about the money.

    • Eddie Von White

      What do you call a guy named Tanaka? I’m going with “Tank.” I would sign a hefty contract with a team that is committed to winning and has a history to prove that commitment. That pretty much leaves the Cubs out.

  • Seymoursan Butts

    I would ask others that have made the same journey.
    Perhaps the Cubs should make some calls and have Fukodome intercede. We also have another Japanese pitcher on the roster who missed most of last season. Maybe Fujikawa and Tanaka are friends. That is the path to Wrigley.

    • Perhaps he’s a foodie. Maybe a physician-certified list of the finest sandwich shop chains in the Wrigleyville area would bring him in.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    Let’s see I am asked to imagine that I am not a Cubs Fan, and that I am half my current age in great physical shape, instead of slightly over wieght, and am about to have a bunch of Major League teams bidding on me. Also I am asked to have a safe and happy new year, only if I am Tanaka or Walter Mitty!

  • mhughes0379

    First off, I want to apologize for the tone of the following comment. I’m a die-hard Cubs fan, and I have been since I was 12. I’m usually the one that tries to keep other fans -not on this site, albeit- believing in the what the front office is doing. I’m in a pessimistic mood today.

    Reasons Against Joining The Cubs:

    1.) Worst losing history in all of professional sports
    2.) Worst facilities -clubhouse, workout, video, etc.- in the major leagues. Sorry, the facilities in AZ and DR for use in the offseason don’t apply. Tanaka -and most Japanese players- could care less about the facilities in those two places. They’ll be in Japan, most likely.
    3.) Horrible weather. Japanese players are used to domes.
    4.) Lost 19? games in the past two seasons
    5.) Will most likely lose for another 2 seasons, at least
    6.) Lack of major Japanese population/culture as compared to west coast teams
    7.) Lack of certainty for the future
    8.) Lack of funds being spent because of supposed ownership debt

    Reasons For Joining The Cubs:
    1.) Great city, minus Japanese population prevalence of west coast cities
    2.) Good farm system
    3.) Savvy front office
    4.) Promise of the future
    5.) Cool, old, rundown ballpark, I guess?

    Honestly, I’m not sure why any Japanese player would want to join the Cubs unless it was about money. What can the Cubs offer to a Japanese player that other teams cannot unless, in fact, it’s cash?

    • Doc Raker

      How much debt do the owners have? They seem to be investing in Wrigley. Maybe they are looking to sell. The Dodgers went for $2B and the Cubs were bought at $750M, put a few million into Wrigley and sell for $1.5B- $2B, not a bad take for a few years work on the north side.

      • Tom under-tipped CAPS $3.75 for two Dominos medium 3-toppings and a two liter of Dr. Pepper a few years ago. So there’s that.

      • PLCB3

        Wrong. His total was 23, he gave me 30, and said keep it.

      • Reckless. No wonder he’s broke.

      • PLCB3

        And he ordered 2 large pizzas, 1 cheese, 1 pepperoni, and an order of CInnaStix. Domino’s doesn’t sell Dr. Pepper. At least not my store. You can get it at Domino’s in the South in addition to the Coke products they sell.

      • Reckless. No wonder he’s broke.

      • AC0000000

        And he ordered 2 large pizzas, 1 cheese, 1 pepperoni, and an order of CInnaStix. Domino’s doesn’t sell Dr. Pepper. At least not my store. You can get it at Domino’s in the South in addition to the Coke products they sell.

      • mhughes0379

        It’s a mysterious thing, really. We don’t know what they actually owe vs. what they’re gaining from owning. There’s been lots of speculation, but nobody really knows for sure. Most, I think, believe that they could have money to spend, but they’re waiting for profits to actually arise before spending. Also, they want to secure revenues from Wrigley (advertising, hotel, McDonalds, etc.) before spending. They have a long-term outlook, and it’s good for Cubs fans (maybe not the older Cubs fans). They have a holdup in that the previous ownership signed a deal with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which last for several more seasons, and the rooftop owners. They’ve tried paying the rooftop owners off, but they won’t accept. Major revenues will be had when they can do what they want with the ballpark that they own. Estimated revenue from advertising on the jumbotron alone: $20 million+ per year. TV deal? Mariners just banked $2 billion dollars over 17 years for a tv deal in SEATTLE. For a Japanese player wanting to play for the Cubs, I just don’t see why unless it’s about money. In fact, I get the impression that Theo and Jed are becoming frustrated with the timeframe for spending.

      • Sean Powell

        From many reports, it seems like the Ricketts don’t have an ordinary “debt” problem like you and I might have. They actually have money and are making money from the team. Apparently, the issue is the terms of their purchase agreement to buy the team (many are seeing Zell as being quite shady here). From what I’ve pieced together, the terms of their debt covenants which allowed them to purchase the team prohibit them from spending over a certain percentage of revenues on the team. Therefore, the Ricketts need to increase their overall revenue in order to increase the amount they can spend on the team according to the terms of sale – thus the move to increase the revenue capacity of Wrigley. What those numbers actually are? I have no idea.

      • Doc Raker

        That is interesting, so there debt holders won’t allow deficit spending so to speak. I would be interested in knowing the particulars of the deal.

      • PLCB3

        I asked Dave Kaplan why he can’t pay off the debt even if he has the means, he said due to the structure of the deal, he can’t pay it off until Jan 1, 2018. Because that’s the 10-year anniversary of Tribune Co going private. I never heard anything about him being restricted on what he could spend. The team is his. Once the 10 years are up, Zell will sell off the 5% stake he retained.

      • Doc Raker

        I have heard from baseball insiders that it is a complicated deal.

      • PLCB3

        It was structured the way it was to minimize taxes. Zell ended up keeping 750M from the sale.

      • AC0000000

        It was structured the way it was to minimize taxes. Zell ended up keeping 750M from the sale.

  • Jedi

    I have a hard time believing that the plan is to sign an unknown entity to the 3rd richest deal in club history during an offseason where they make no other substantial moves…none. The move to sign Tanaka feels like something you do when you already have a good team – not a risk you take that could severely damage the cash flow of a bad team.

    I also don’t think the Cubs can sign him to the requisite deal and afford to have him become anything less than a coveted ace; that’s a substantial burden. If I was Tanaka, I’d sign somewhere that already had a legitimate ace so that he didn’t have that burden on him from Opening Day.

    • Sean Powell

      I think this is exactly the type of signing that would fit the “plan.” He’s 25, so he should still be in his prime 4, 5, and 6 years from now, when the rebuild should be over. He doesn’t cost anything but money – no prospects, and, importantly, no draft pick….and maybe the reason the Cubs haven’t made any other substantial moves is so they can go all in on Tanaka. Besides, none of the other FAs this offseason make sense according to the plan, since they will be past their prime once the team is competitive, and they’ll cost a draft pick to sign.

      • Tend to agree, SP. This is our guy, if they can make it happen…which is seemingly unlikely.

      • Doc Raker

        That sounds logical if the price isn’t ridiculous.

      • Seymour Butts

        ALL of the prices are ridiculous…therefore, logical.

      • Jedi

        A team that supposedly can’t spend money and continues to build towards an unknown date is going to shell out the third biggest deal in team history for a guy who has never played one out in the majors? THAT is the plan?

      • Park the accounting for a bit and allow yourself to enter a fake place where we have a pitcher who is legitimately exciting to watch.

      • Sean Powell

        Uh, yeah. They actually have plenty of money to spend right now. Also, due to inflation, it’s not surprising that all the largest deals in team history will be in the future. This FO can’t seem to win with some people. They get killed for not signing super-expensive FAs on the back-end of their careers, and they’ll get killed for spending big on a young, promising pitcher…and of course they’ll get killed if they don’t land him. Being a skeptic is one thing…

      • Buddy

        Agreed Sean. The Cubs have plenty of money to spend, if they so choose, including the extra $25 million per year each team will receive in television revenue starting in 2014.

      • PLCB3

        If you look at salaries back in the late 90s/early 2000’s vs today, there is only a small increase above the rate of inflation.

      • AC0000000

        If you look at salaries back in the late 90s/early 2000’s vs today, there is only a small increase above the rate of inflation.

      • Jedi

        Sean, it was you who said we were handcuffed on spending,”From what I’ve pieced together, the terms of their debt covenants which allowed them to purchase the team prohibit them from spending over a certain percentage of revenues on the team.”

        Who is killing them for not signing old, expensive FAs? I thought it’s as pretty well agreed upon here that passing on Cano, Choo, etc. was the right thing to do. I certainly won’t be killing them if Tanaka goes elsewhere for $100M+. I guess anything less than 100% dedication to every decision is unacceptable?

      • Chuck

        The Choo and Cano contracts will be disasters of A-Rodian proportions before they are done. It is not so much the money (although it kind of is) it is the years of the contract. These teams will have to burn a roster spot and a lineup spot on a guy who is, basically, a replacement level player.

      • Chuck

        The Choo and Cano contracts will be disasters of A-Rodian proportions before they are done. It is not so much the money (although it kind of is) it is the years of the contract. These teams will have to burn a roster spot and a lineup spot on a guy who is, basically, a replacement level player.

  • Doug S.

    If I’m Tanaka, I take the Dodgers. Contender, big market, not quite the NYC insanity, better weather, and location to home.

    • Doc Raker

      And a large Japanese population in LA.

      • With all of those giant pizzas, I’m sure Chicago has a population of large Japanese.

      • With all of those giant pizzas, I’m sure Chicago has a population of large Japanese.

  • Doug S.

    If I’m Tanaka, I take the Dodgers. Contender, big market, not quite the NYC insanity, better weather, and location to home.

  • Doc Raker

    It is being reported that Tanaka wants $17M per for at least 6 years and the Yankee’s are willing to pay. Do you think the Cubs will get in a bidding war with the Yankee’s?

    • Chuck

      There is a non-zero chance that players don’t want to play for the Yankees. The team is old and getting worse, the division is insanely tough, management seems insane at times, and the taxes are horrendous in NYC.

  • Doc Raker

    It is being reported that Tanaka wants $17M per for at least 6 years and the Yankee’s are willing to pay. Do you think the Cubs will get in a bidding war with the Yankee’s?

    • Chuck

      There is a non-zero chance that players don’t want to play for the Yankees. The team is old and getting worse, the division is insanely tough, management seems insane at times, and the taxes are horrendous in NYC.

  • Chuck

    If I were Tanaka, I would take the offer with the highest take home pay (taxes matter) and build a Scrooge McDuck-style money vault to swim in my money. Cub fan or no Cub fan. In this life you have to do what is best for you and your family at all times. Nobody else is looking out for you other than yourself.

    If the offers were close. I would choose the Cubs because the division sucks and anything close to a Cy Young season would make me an instant folk hero for life in Chicago.

    • Latrelle Spreewell

      I gots to feed my babies.

      • Doc Raker

        Baby mama’s cost some bling too!

      • PLCB3

        Juan Gonzalez is probably the only one dumber than Sprewell. He turned down a 140M contract

  • Chuck

    If I were Tanaka, I would take the offer with the highest take home pay (taxes matter) and build a Scrooge McDuck-style money vault to swim in my money. Cub fan or no Cub fan. In this life you have to do what is best for you and your family at all times. Nobody else is looking out for you other than yourself.

    If the offers were close. I would choose the Cubs because the division sucks and anything close to a Cy Young season would make me an instant folk hero for life in Chicago.

    • Latrelle Spreewell

      I gots to feed my babies.

      • Doc Raker

        Baby mama’s cost some bling too!

      • AC0000000

        Juan Gonzalez is probably the only one dumber than Sprewell. He turned down a 140M contract